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Scotland to regulate short-term lets

Words: Laura Edgar
AirBnb / Shutterstock_474258127

Scottish housing minister Kevin Stewart has announced that local authorities will be able to implement a licensing scheme for short-term lets from spring 2021.

The minister announced the measures in the Scottish Parliament yesterday (8 January).

These are aimed at enabling councils to “know and understand” what is happening in their area, to improve safety and assist with the effective handling of complaints.

The Scottish Government explained that the licensing scheme would include a new mandatory safety requirement covering every type of short-term let, such as Airbnb, to guarantee a good-quality experience for visitors. Through it, councils would have the discretion to apply further conditions to address the concerns of local residents.

The licensing scheme means that councils will be able to designate control areas so that planning permission would always be required for the change of use of whole properties for short-term lets.

Stewart acknowledged the benefits of short-term lets – they offer a flexible travel option and they have contributed “positively” to the country’s tourism industry as well as local economies.

However, he said that in certain areas, in particular tourist hotspots, “high numbers of short-term lets are causing problems and often make it harder for people to find homes to live in”.

“By giving councils the power to set conditions around short-term lets licences and put in place planning control areas to tackle hotspots, communities across Scotland will be able to decide what is best for them and their local economy.

“Everybody wants visitors, hosts, neighbours and local residents to be safe. That is why the licensing scheme includes a safety element which will be mandatory across Scotland for all short-term lets. Separately, local authorities will be given discretion to include further conditions to help tackle littering or overcrowding of properties.”

The Scottish Government added that ministers will consider how short-term lets should be taxed in the future to ensure they make an “appropriate” contribution to local communities and support local services.

Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council Adam McVey welcomed Stewart's announcement.

“This is extremely welcome news and will give us the controls that we need over short-term lets for our residents and communities across Edinburgh. [The] announcement by the minister meets our request for mandatory licenses and we will now be in a position to more effectively implement planning controls to stop the increase of short-term lets. A review of taxation of short-term lets will also make sure that businesses are paying properly for income they’re receiving and local services they’re using."

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